Career Development

In January, 2011, the Music Department Strategic Planning Committee held its first meeting to determine the needs of the department.  During a consultative process with students and faculty over the next three months, one of the glaring needs expressed by students was for assistance in preparing for a career in music.  A report from the Strategic Planning dated April 6, 2011, asserts that need, as follows:

Professionalization and Career Preparation. A recurring theme is that our current students, graduate and undergraduate, feel severely underserved in the areas of professional development and career preparation.  Performance students especially express an urgent need for guidance in important facets of professional career preparation, from the writing of resumés, program notes, grant proposals, press releases, and cover letters for job applications, to creation of effective websites, finding appropriate management, interfacing with young artists’ programs and performing arts organizations, preparing for auditions and job interviews, planning and negotiating community outreach programs.  Pedagogical practices and experience need also to be addressed. We must take greater responsibility for preparing our students to function effectively in the complex and multi-faceted musical culture of the present day.”


David Finckel

The department began planning soon afterwards and unveiled a robust schedule of events beginning with the 2013-14 academic year.  The Career Development offerings were anchored by David Finckel, who had recently left the Emerson String Quartet, and Christopher Herbert, singer in New York Polyphony.  David brought his enormous expertise, as co-artistic director of Chamber Society of Lincoln Center and Music@Menlo, to a series of six workshops entitled “Being a Musician.”   The six sessions, in which there was great student interest and attendance, were titled:

  • “Who Am I”
  • “What is an Artist”
  • “Learning”
  • “Performing”
  • “Relationships”
  • “Working”

The events were so successful that a second series, titled “Music, Musicians, and the Industry,” was planned by David the next year, featuring invited guests.  These included Trent Casey, Associate Director of Marketing and Digital Media at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Wu Han, co-artistic director of Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Music@Menlo, and the Calidore String Quartet.  The six sessions were titled:

  • “Artistic Directing in the 21st Century” (with Wu Han)
  • “Guest Artists I: Mstislav Rostropovich”
  • “Your Career and the Media” (with Trent Casey)
  • “Elements of Performance” (with the Calidore String Quartet)
  • “Guest Artists II: Fritz Kreisler”
  • “The Life of Beethoven through the Cello Sonatas” (with Wu Han)

This two-year series of twelve talks will begin again in the 2015 academic year.

Christopher Herbert (Photo: Joanne Bouknight)

Christopher Herbert (Photo: Joanne Bouknight)

Christopher Herbert offered an 8-part series, in two parts, during the 2013-4 and 2014-15 seasons.  In addition to his participation in the Grammy award-nominated professional vocal ensemble, New York Polyphony, Chris has varied experience in a range of fields, serving in leadership roles for the consulting firm The Denver Research Group, the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency’s Integrated Crisis Early Warning System project, the public relations firm Brown Lloyd James, and the non-profit organization Sing for Hope.  His social media and marketing work was a prominent part of Sing for Hope’s 2010 and 2011 Pop-Up Pianos throughout New York.

The series, entitled “Finding Your Path: Success In the Business of Classical Music” kicked off in 2013-14 and included the following talks:

  • “Goals: Reality and You”
  • “Money, Finance, Budgeting, and Fear”
  • “Marketing: Social Media and Beyond”
  • “Networking: Putting it All Together”

In the second year, 2014-15, Chris honed in on specific marketing outreach, culminating in the development of a website by each student.  The series included:

  • “Goals: Strengths and Weaknesses”
  • “Your Website: Creation”
  • “What’s the Use? School, Auxiliary Work, and Recordings”
  • “Your Website: Completion”

In addition to the ten yearly events contributed by David Finckel and Christopher Herbert, dozens of other events were planned, with faculty and guests participating.  For performance students, sessions in taking auditions (hornist and guest David Cooper), making cd’s (Ann Ellsworth), stage comportment (Carol Wincenc), programming (Nicholas Cords), developing a professional career (alumna Risa Renae Harman), conducting a master class (Christina Dahl), among many others were offered.  For composers, visits from representatives from ASCAP and BMI were planned, as were workshops in writing program notes and bios, entering competitions, writing cover letters, and presenting one’s music.  History-theory students are being well-coached in writing and delivering papers, aided by a busy schedule of invited scholars who come yearly and interact with our students.

The Department of Music has made much progress in the last few years in planning events that address professional development.  It is our hope that many of our students will join our long list of successful alumni who have forged successful careers in music and other fields.